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 "The Vital Element"-L/M, L/H, Solo Children [VIG] 
ginchy
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Title: The Vital Element
Author: ginchy
Disclaimer: I don’t own Luke or Mara, or any of the situations. Just letting my favorite characters have some much deserved fun.
Rating: G
Genre: Fluff
Summary: As a thank you for Leia's surprise in "Element of Surprise", Mara and Luke babysit the Solo children to give Leia and Han a night off.
Notes: This is the third and final vignette in a series, following "The Missing Element" and "Element of Surprise".

***

“But I don’t want to take a bath!”

“Well, you smell, nerf-breath, so you have to!”

“Mom! Jacen called me ‘nerf-breath’!”

“Mom doesn’t care. She calls Dad a nerf all the time.”

“Jacen!” Leia sounded scandalized, walking in on the last part of the argument. “I do not call your father a nerf all the time.”

“Just when he deserves it, right Mom?” Jaina, trailing after Leia, piped up.

Leia hid a smile, wondering how to respond, when the door chime rang.

“Uncle Luke!” the boys shouted in unison, running for the door.

Jaina’s eyes lit up, and she too took off for the door. “Mara!”

Anakin managed to squeeze past Threepio to open the door, pouncing straight up into his uncle’s arms.

Luke grunted with the impact, but held his nephew fast. “Aren’t you getting a bit too big for this, Ani?”

But Anakin wasn’t interested in that. “Uncle Luke, can you use the Force to keep from taking baths?”

Mara snorted with laughter, bending to hug Jaina.

“Uh…” Luke looked to be at a loss. “You don’t want to bathe?”

“No! And I thought about it. You go on missions all the time; you can’t always take a bath, right? So I guessed that you must be using the Force to keep yourself clean.”

Mara cackled with laughter. She wrinkled her nose at Jaina. “You know, Ani has a point. Maybe your uncle should have been using the Force to keep himself clean on his missions.”

“You mean he doesn’t?” Anakin asked from Luke’s arms, crestfallen.

“Sorry, buddy,” Luke said, lowering him back to the ground. “I usually clean up the old fashioned way.”

“But….” Anakin looked around for a comrade, and found none. “Well… you know, on the HoloNet someone said that a person can drown in a spoonful of water…”

“Only if you suck it up your nose, bantha-butt!” Jacen said, laughing at his younger brother.

Jacen!” Leia admonished, ignoring the look of ‘isn’t this familiar’ that she was getting from Luke.

“But, Mom….” Jacen began, swiping at his little brother as he noticed the smirk on his face.

“JACEN Solo,” Leia’s voice raised, ready to give the ‘do not hit your brother’ speech.

“Hey, hey, what’s going on in here? Mom’s calling full names…” Han Solo walked into the foyer, eyeing the crowd gathered there.

Anakin looked up at his father. “Uncle Luke can’t use the Force to keep clean!”

Han raised an eyebrow, and nudged a scowling Jacen‘s shoulder. “And that’s what’s got your Mom using Jacen’s full name here?”

“That and the fact that Jacen called Anakin nerf-breath and bantha-butt.” Jaina spoke up helpfully, still standing at Mara’s side.

“Well, I’m sure Jacen meant it in a very loving way,” Han said, looking squarely at his eldest son. “After all, your Mom calls me a nerf all the time, and it‘s purely a term of affection, now…” Han winked.

“Gross!” Jacen cried. “I am not affectionate with him!”

“Oh, come on,” Han grinned at his sons. “You know you love your baby brother.”

Jacen made a retching noise, and though Anakin looked a little hurt, he was quick to agree. “I don’t love Jacen, either!”

“Good,” Jacen answered. “Cause you still smell.”

“Jacen!” Leia‘s voice was firm.

Both boys ignored their mother.

“Well,” Anakin said, “if I can’t use the Force to stay clean, then I’m not taking a bath at all! And I don‘t smell!”

Luke, standing by the door, a bit bewildered, spoke up. “Uh, Anakin…”

Jaina cut her uncle off, however, heaving a sigh of pure frustration. “I don’t think I’m related to either one of you,” she directed to her brothers.

The kids began a bit of playful arguing amongst themselves, while Han and Leia, seeing that no blood was going to be shed and that there would probably be no tears, extricated themselves and moved to stand by Luke and Mara, still in the doorway.

“Well, buddy,” Han said, squeezing Luke’s shoulder, “they’re all yours. Was your night in the bath worth this price?” he laughed.

Luke didn’t answer, and Han grinned. Turning he saw Leia giving a wide-eyed Mara instructions on bath schedules, acceptable snacks, and bedtimes.

“Jaina, sinus-medication at bedtime…” Mara repeated, looking panicked.

“Right, then…” Leia said, brightly, entwining her arm with Han’s. “We’re off! Bye, kids!”

“Bye,” the kids answered absently, now arguing over the exact description of Anakin’s apparent stench.

“Wait!” Luke said, as Han and Leia exited. “What if Anakin won’t take a bath?”

“Simple,” Leia winked. “Use the Force, Luke.”

The door closed on Leia and Han’s laughter, leaving an unprepared uncle and soon-to-be aunt standing stock-still in shock.

***

“…. it’s like that time Dad left his sweaty shoes outside and they molded--remember that smell? That’s what you smell like.”

“I do not!” Anakin shouted indignantly. “They smelled terrible.” Anakin lifted his arm and sniffed. “And I just smell like me.”

“You really don’t smell… um… great, Ani,” Jaina said, diplomatically. “But I don’t think you smell like Dad’s old shoes, either.”

“See!” Anakin looked triumphantly at Jacen.

Jacen gave his twin a dark look. “Well… maybe he smells like Chewie’s armpi--”

“OKAY!” Luke jumped in, interrupting the scent talk. “Let’s go into the sitting room and decide what we’re going to do tonight.”

Jacen was affronted. “I wasn’t saying that Chewie always smells. But sometimes he can be…”

“That’s enough, Jace,” Luke said, ruffling his nephew’s hair. “I know what you meant.”

“Then you agree that Anakin smells like Chewie’s armpits?”

Jaina heaved a sigh and grabbed Mara’s hand. “Let’s go to my room, Mara, and get away from these boys.”

“Hey!” All three of the boys chorused.

“We’re not that bad,” Luke defended.

“That’s what they think, eh, Jaina?” Mara asked, winking at her soon-to-be niece.

“Right!” Jaina grinned, and pulled Mara down the hall. Once in her room, she shut the door and flopped onto her bed. “Sorry my brothers are idiots,” she apologized.

“All men are that way sometimes,” Mara answered, sitting on a chair near the bed. “Don’t worry about it. They’re very interested in their bodily functions.”

Jaina grinned. “I know! Sometimes I hear Jace and Ani and Dad talking and I just want to…” Jaina pantomimed puking.

Mara hid a smile. She looked around the room approvingly, noting the lack of overly frilly and girly things. It was definitely a girl’s room, but not exploding with pink or dolls or anything.

“Mara?” Jaina asked. “You and Uncle Luke are getting married, right?”

“Yes, we are.” Mara confirmed, smiling at the girl.

“Well… That means you’ll be my aunt, right? So… you’re Aunt Mara?”

“If you wish to call me that,” Mara answered. “I’d consider it a great honor.”

Jaina smiled happily. “Good!” She looked at her newly named aunt for a moment, while chewing on a thumb nail. “Is it true that you and Uncle Luke have to get married?”

Have to? No… we want to…” Mara answered, confused. “Why?”

Jaina’s eyes grew round. “Well, it’s just that on the HoloNet the lady said you and Uncle Luke had to get married so quickly because you’re going to have a baby.”

“What?!” Mara jumped up from her chair. “They’re saying what on the HoloNet?”

Jaina jumped up too. “I don’t know, Aunt Mara! That’s just what the lady on it said. That you and Uncle Luke were having a baby and had to get married fast!”

Mara sighed before gesturing for Jaina to sit beside her on the bed. “Jaina, your Uncle and I are not having a baby, not yet. We’re getting married quickly… because, well… we’re ready. We want to be married, and don’t want to wait. And sometimes, on the HoloNet, people say things that are untrue about well-known people, just to make other people watch their shows. Do you understand?”

Jaina nodded. “Yeah! Sometimes they say bad things about Dad on the HoloNet, like that he and Uncle Luke were at parties with Twi’lek dancers or that he and Mom are going to divorce because Dad is in love with Winter or some other women. Which is stupid.”

Mara nodded. “It IS stupid. I’m glad you understand that.” Mara smiled, changing the subject. “So, what do you want to do tonight? Hide in here from the boys?”

“Hmmm…” Jaina thought for a moment, before brightening. “I know! What if I go and take my shower, and then when I get out, you can help me do my hair!”

“Do your hair?”

“Yeah! You can teach me how to make it big, like yours!”

Jaina exited her room and ran off excitedly towards the ‘fresher, leaving Mara to look into Jaina’s mirror and pat her red-hair, wondering. Did she really have big hair?

***

“Girls!” Jacen said, watching his twin pull Mara down the hall. “I’m glad I only have one sister.”

“Me, too,” Anakin said, somehow pleased to be aligned with his brother, even if Jacen was being mean to him.

“Me, too,” Luke said, winking at the boys and causing them to laugh. They headed into the sitting area and collapsed onto the settee, looking around the room for a moment.

“So, Anakin, I think that your smell…”

“Let’s not start with that again, Jacen,” Luke said, giving him a stern look from the corner of his eye. “Isn’t there anything else you’d rather talk about?”

“No,” Jacen answered honestly. “I was just trying to make him understand that we have to share his stench with him. It’s not fair to us--and especially me, since I share a room with him.”

“Do you think I smell bad, Uncle Luke?” Anakin asked in a small voice, ignoring Jacen’s snicker.

“Uh-well, Ani…”

“Uncle Luke is too nice to tell you that you smell bad, nerf,” Jacen said.

“Yeah, well, maybe you stink, Jacen.”

“Oh, good comeback, baby brother.”

“Guys!” Luke raised his voice, sensing the fight was about to begin again between the brothers. “You know… once, I smelled so badly, that I swore I could smell it for months afterwards. In fact… your Mom, Dad, Chewie, and I all smelled very badly.”

“Yeah?” Jacen sat up on the settee. “Where were you? Why did you smell? What did you smell like?”

Even Anakin was intrigued. “Even Mom? She NEVER smells bad.”

Luke grinned. “Trust me, she smelled. We ALL smelled. See, we were on the Death Star…”

“Where you found Mom,” Anakin shouted, bouncing up on the settee.

“Yes, where we found your Mom. And, in order to escape, we all went down the trash-shoot.”

Jacen’s eyes grew wide. “Imperial garbage! All right! What exactly did it smell like?”

Luke thought back. “Well… I actually went underneath the garbage, and swallowed a bit of the muck…”

“Ewwww!” Anakin shrieked, though he sounded thrilled.

“It smelled like… Old food, raw-sewage, sweaty feet, and engine lube all in one.”

Jacen wrinkled his nose. He nudged Anakin with his foot. “That’s even worse than how you smell!”

Luke shook his head, but grinned. “And it tasted even better,” he said, having gained a sense of humor over his early mishaps with age.

The boys laughed, imagining their uncle drinking Imperial garbage muck.

Jacen wrinkled his nose. “I feel like I can smell that garbage. I think I’m going to go and take my shower--I think I heard Jaina in there, but she must be out now.” Jacen walked to the doorway, before turning back and pinning his younger brother with a challenge in his eyes. “Unless you want to shower first, Ani.”

Anakin shook his head.

“Fine, fine… smell like a…” Jacen’s comments faded as he headed down the hall.

Luke looked at his youngest nephew and smiled. “So, what do you want to do while we wait for Jacen?”

Anakin chewed on his lower lip. “Well… Uncle Luke, are you really just too nice to tell me that I smell? I tried to put on some of Dad’s cologne so I wouldn’t smell bad for you and Mara.”

Luke suppressed a smile. “Anakin, what’s up, bud? Why don’t you want to take a bath?”

Anakin mumbled something under his breath.

“What was that?” Luke asked.

“I said, I don’t like the water. I’d rather stay dry, or go through the sonics.”

“Well, sonics are nice, but bathing in water--nothing tops that.”

“But the water… it’s… I don’t like getting wet all over.”

“I’ll tell you a secret--I never liked baths that much, either. But I learned to love them.”

“How?”

“Well, uh--” Luke realized he couldn’t exactly tell his young nephew his motivation for liking baths. “Baths are a great way to relax. You can be all by yourself, and water has an amazing healing property to it, to treat sore and tired muscles.”

“But you can do that with the Force. And, besides, I shouldn’t have to do something I don’t want to.”

“Yes, Anakin, you could probably use the Force to keep clean—but don’t you think we should save that for extreme circumstances?”

“Maybe,” Anakin muttered.

“And, in an ideal galaxy, you wouldn’t have to do something you don’t want. But, sadly, we don’t live in an ideal galaxy. So you and I and everyone must do things we don’t want to do, for the greater good.”

“But is Jacen’s nose really the greater good?”

Luke couldn’t help but chuckle at that. “Seems so in this case, buddy.”

Anakin sighed. “Okay, I guess I’ll take a shower, after Jacen.”

“Good for you,” Luke said, smiling. “Tell you what--after that, you can pick what we do for the rest of the evening.”

Anakin leaned in towards his uncle conspiratorially. “Even if it’s something Jacen hates?”

Especially if it’s something Jacen hates,” Luke winked, grinning.

***

“Gods, I HATE this game,” Jacen grumbled, looking at the pieces lined up on the board.

“Really?” Luke asked, feigning surprise. “Well, I let Anakin pick, so… I guess this is what we’re playing. You can pick the snack we eat later, okay?”

“I guess,” Jacen said, perking up when Jaina and Mara walked into the room. “What in the… What happened to your hair, Jaina?!” he asked, laughing. “It’s HUGE, like Mara’s.”

“AUNT Mara, nerf-brain, and our hair is not huge!” Jaina answered, self-consciously patting her hair, done up in waves similar to Mara’s. “Do you like my hair, Uncle Luke?”

Luke smiled at his niece, and kissed her on the cheek. “You look beautiful, Jaina,” he answered. “I love your hair.”

Jaina beamed up at him, before turning to grin at her aunt. “I’m glad you showed me how to do this. Mom always wants me to wear my hair in buns.”

Jacen choked on his laughter, eyes lighting up. “That’s what we can snack on! Sweet-rolls!”

Mara snorted with laughter, too, and even Luke smiled. “Where’s Anakin?” Mara asked, taking a seat next to Jaina at the table and looking around.

“He probably had to take three baths to rid himself of that smell,” Jacen answered her. “Aunt Mara,” he remembered to add.

“Come on, Jacen,” she said, looking at him shrewdly. “Was it really that bad?”

Jacen squirmed uncomfortably under his new aunt’s green gaze. “It was pretty bad,” he answered.

“Well, maybe we could let it go?” Mara asked, smiling at him.

“Maybe,” he said, after a beat.

“Thanks,” Mara mouthed to him, as a newly clean and wet-haired Anakin walked into the room and climbed into a chair. He looked around as if daring anyone to comment.

Luke smiled around at his family. “You kids ready to play this game?”

“Yeah, let’s do it… And then have our sweet-rolls,” Jacen said, sliding a look to his brother.

“Sweet-rolls! But I hate those!” Anakin said, looking glumly at the game he’d chosen.

“Come on,” Luke said, groaning inwardly. “Let’s play.”

***

Several hours, three different snacks, and a dose of sinus medication later, the Solo children were safely tucked into their beds. Jacen hadn’t been able to resist making a crack about Anakin’s smelly sheets, so Luke spent some time changing them before they finally got into bed. Mara helped Jaina to pin up her ‘big hair’ so that she could show it to her Mom in the morning, and hugs and kisses were exchanged all around.

Mara and Luke collapsed onto the settee in the sitting room.

“When do you think Leia and Han will return?” Luke asked, absently toying with a lock of Mara’s wavy hair.

“If they’re smart--never,” Mara said, giggling.

Luke poked his fiancée in the ribs and she started, laughing harder.

“No, really--they’re great kids. I can’t believe it--me, an aunt. I honestly had a great time tonight, farmboy.”

Luke hummed in agreement.

“What really surprised me, though, was the kids. Whenever I’ve met them before, they seemed so serious and mature--but tonight--they were acting, well, like children. It was nice to see,” Mara said, leaning back to look up into Luke’s face.

“Yes, it is,” Luke agreed. “No matter how mature they act, we do have to remember that underneath it all, they’re still kids. If I have my way about it, they’ll have a nice, long childhood to remember.”

“I think they will,” Mara said, smiling up at him.

They were quiet for a moment, basking in the silence and the nearness of the other.

“Luke?” Mara broke the silence. “Do you know what they’re saying on the HoloNet?”

“What? The party Han and I attended with Twi’lek dancers? Love, you know what happened at my bachelor party. Not a Twi’lek in sight.”

“No, not that…”

“Oh, you mean the ‘fact’ that we have to marry because you’re carrying my love-child? Or the ‘fact’ that you have big-hair?”

Lightening fast reflexes and a pre-warning tingle from their bond couldn’t save Luke from the palm that lanced its way towards his bicep.

“I do not have big hair!”

***

Han and Leia returned to find a quiet and happy home, three sleeping children, and Luke and Mara sacked out together on their settee.

“Would you look at that?” Han whispered, looking at the entwined couple. “I wish I had my holo-cam. Catching Jade there in an awkwardly sweet position…”

“I heard that, Solo,” Mara grumbled, awakening.

“How were the kids?” Leia asked, smiling at her brother as he opened his eyes and blinked rapidly, looking a lot like Anakin did first thing in the mornings.

“They were fine--all three took their showers and fuss was kept to a minimum,” Luke answered.

“Even Anakin? How’d you manage that?” Han asked. “He’s suddenly developed an aversion to baths.”

“He just didn’t like the water,” Luke said. “Maybe you should take him to Tatooine,” Luke suggested.

Leia leaned in to hug her brother as he rose from the settee. “The Skywalker blood runs true in that one, huh?” Leia laughed. “Thank you so much for this, Luke. Han and I had a wonderful time.”

“Yeah, Kid, almost as much fun as if we’d been bathing together…” Han grinned.

Luke smirked. “Well, in answer to your earlier question—yes, our time in the bath was more than worth spending tonight with the kids… and you know I’d love to be with them in any case, water-phobia and all.”

Han rolled his eyes, and laughed. “I swear, you and your sister, and now my kids--all crazy over water… and sometimes not in a good way…”

“Must be something in those Skywalker genes,” Mara said, laughing along with Han, while the Skywalker twins merely scowled.

“I’ll have you know that water is a vital element, just like family,” Leia said, sticking up for her gene pool. “And we can’t help it if we’re crazy over water.”

“Apparently they can’t help it if they’re crazy over anything,” Han said, elbowing Mara. “You sure you want to dive headfirst right into this family?”

“Well, if you can survive it, Solo, I guess I can, too,” Mara answered, smirking over at Luke and Leia who stood together, arms crossed in unconscious imitation of the other.

Leia looked sideways at Luke. “They’re just lucky we brought them into our family.”

“Kicking and screaming the whole way,” Luke laughed, walking to Mara and kissing her cheek.

“Somehow I think that’s the way we all came into the ‘Skywalker’ line…” Han mused, wrapping an arm around his princess’ waist.

“That’s certainly the truth,” Leia said, smiling around at her soon-to-be expanded family, “but now I don’t think any of us would have it any other way.”

_________________
"Love we have, and passion." Mara/Luke
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